Revolutionizing Digital Signage: Mark McDermott's Vision for ScreenCloud
Mark McDermott, Co-Founder & CEO of ScreenCloud
Dive into the tech-savvy conversation between Harshit Gupta and Mark McDermott, Co-Founder & CEO of ScreenCloud, as they unravel the evolution of digital signage. From Y2K bug challenges to reshaping content dynamics, McDermott shares insights on marketing strategies, customer engagement, and the unique blend of technical prowess that sets ScreenCloud apart in the digital landscape. Discover the impact of the pandemic on business, ingenious KPIs for campaign effectiveness, and insights into managing a vast customer base with over 100,000 screens.
ScreenCloud global digital signage platform empowering more than 10K businesses to share meaningful content through screens.
Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of Wytpod. My name is Harshit and I’m the Director of Business Alliances at Wytlabs. We are a digital agency specializing in SaaS and E-commerce SEO, and I’ve got Mark with me. He’s the Co-founder and CEO of ScreenCloud, a global digital signage platform empowering more than 10K businesses to share meaningful content through screens.
A big welcome to you, Mark, and I’m so happy to host you today.
Thank you very much for inviting me on.
Now before we dive into all the awesome things you do in screen time would love to know and our viewers will appreciate this a little bit about you and your professional journey because you’re moving to a lot of other businesses as well.
So yeah, please. Yeah, I think it’s always interesting to hear because most entrepreneurs, even if it’s like a newer company, their actual backstory of how they got there really tells you the story of the person. In my case, I graduated from university in the year 2000 which was an interesting time the dot com boom and soon-to-be bust was going on, the web was pretty new and I had a real interest in IT.
So I started in I.T. consulting, and there is a big drive to bring people who didn’t have a classic I.T. background, which I didn’t. I studied economic and social history at university. So how did I end up here? At that point at that time, there was something called the Y2K bug.
You may have never heard of it. There was a flood of need for IT specialists to come in and train. So I started in corporate it for PricewaterhouseCoopers before they sold to IBM, but then during the tech crash lost a job there. And then that took me back into the agency life. And I joined a digital agency, which was working mainly in the public sector.
So they still had clients at the time. And that’s where I met my two Co-founders, David and Luke. And then a couple of years later, we started our own company. It was a digital agency designing and building websites. And then later web apps, mobile apps, and things like that.
And we ran that for about 13 years cashflow business. And then no, It’s actually. It is still alive. So the agency was called Potent, okay. And we acquired another agency along the way. We acquired an agency, I think it was in 2011, called Thin Martian who was mainly working with Microsoft.
And we acquired that, grew that, and then sold that. So that’s still going. So Thin Martian still exists. You can go and check thin martian.com and you see some of the old, some of our work’s still on their case study page. This is interesting. We work for people like British Airways, Nestle, and BBC Microsoft was a big one.
And then about halfway through that in the agency journey, we started to use the profit that we generated and invest in our products. So we started building products on the side, like a small apps team that was building them and they were strapped and profitable.
Some of them completely failed and some of them were reasonably successful and we learned how to really build that product muscle and, Rather than just delivering projects, actually learn how to also market and grow digital products. And again, we got in quite early on the App Store and we had quite a lot of success there because we were early on the App Store.
We had 20 million downloads and a lot of revenue coming from that. So that was good. We sold most of those products off over time after generating revenue. And then ScreenCloud was one of those side projects which started around 2015. I assume it’s when we officially incorporated, although the side project started a bit earlier.
We saw a huge opportunity here and decided to just go all in on that. Raise some independent money spun ScreenCloud out as a separate company and then really the rest of history been growing that since then.
that’s brilliant. So what was the idea behind the problem that you were trying to solve or opening that you’ll see when you were launching ScreenCloud?
Yeah. And I think it’s worth saying that the problem changes over time, right? So if you have to say that in the context of 2014, and 2015, what was the problem we’re trying to solve?
And now, today in the context of 2023, what are we trying to solve? It has evolved, although there is a common thread. Yeah. So I suppose if you go right back to the beginning as web developers, which is what, we were we didn’t know how to build anything for screens. The screen was like this forgotten landscape.
And in fact, what is the original screen? It is the TV, right? That’s the first screen anyone will have had in their life, going back, to when TV first came to fruition before computers and personal computing. And yet, yeah. Anyone working in the digital sphere doesn’t know how to work with screens.
And the reality is it’s very difficult. It’s a highly fragmented hardware market. There are no common standards between the major manufacturers like Samsung and LG. And if you asked a web developer to do it, they’d have to learn something new. So our real mission was to bring the web to screens and to enable this to be simple and easy to deploy web-based applications on screen.
That was like what we saw. The second thing that we saw was that. Because the hardware world is highly commoditized with low margins, on the digital signage side, the professional digital signage side, they were putting out very expensive units. Now there was a good use case for those units, maybe it’s 24*7, or maybe it needs to be weather-resistant or even resistant to vandalism because it’s out in public.
But not every TV screen in business needs to be on all the time and needs to be secured against extreme weather or extreme people in some cases. So why couldn’t a normal TV be used? There’s no margin in that. So what we do is we say that’s not a purchase as a hardware problem.
That’s a purchase as a software problem. So that’s when we took new products on the market, like Amazon Fire TV, and said could this 40 computer make a screen work for business? The answer was yes, to some degree, but not for everything. And that opened up the market to people who previously would have had to spend a huge amount of capital expenditure.
On professional screens when it just wasn’t necessary. And that’s really where things began. And that’s really where the flywheel started to begin.
What sets you apart from like in today’s age? From other digital signage solutions in the market and particularly catering to the multi-location enterprises and desk-less frontline workforces.
So the actual digital signage software market is quite flooded.
And if you look out there, through Google or whatever, you might find hundreds of basically software solutions saying that they do the same thing. So the reality is that there are a couple of things. There’s only really a handful of players who are actually like the leaders in this space.
There’s a lot of very small niche ones. There’s nothing wrong with that. But what you tend to find is. There may be quite a small technical team. They probably haven’t got the scope of the resources to build a fully-fledged solution. Fundamentally, the big problem with digital signage is that it doesn’t work very well.
Historically it was either very complicated or on-premise. So it wasn’t cloud-based. And reliability was a huge issue. So you had the either blue screen of death, black screens, frozen screens, whatever it might be. And so most teams around the world who’ve tried to use screens in the past have found that there’s a big reliability issue.
So if you’re going to build trust with customers at scale, it has to work. Now it’s much more complicated than it might think. Not only do you have the fragmented hardware landscape, a load of different operating systems. Some of these were never really designed for screens like Windows is used on screens, but Windows was never really designed for screens.
So you’ve got your fighting against the operating systems often. In addition, screens tend to go in public environments that quite often have very poor connectivity and very poor WiFi. And even the Wi-Fi connectors behind a screen, which might be, up on a big concrete wall. So connectivity is an issue and you cannot rely on that as well, which is another part of the reliability stack.
So just and then the other big part of this is the web experience. The embedded web experience on screens is usually massively out of date. So you might be running like kind of versions of Chrome from four years ago, which means a web developer now needs to, make changes to the applications for it to run and render correctly.
So if you’re going to take all of these things together, it’s extremely complicated and that’s just getting anything to look good at anything to work beyond that. You now need to give tools and support to those customers in terms of how we enable them to get content up onto the screen in a screen-friendly format.
Which most content hasn’t been designed for? And it goes on and on really in terms of what the challenges are. So I suppose what sets ScreenCloud apart initially is that we’ve taken on all of these major challenges seriously and come up with a reliable and cost-effective solution against them.
In terms of differentiating, we have a robust and modern solution. When we looked at the market of probably the more serious players in the market, most of them are focused on what we just described as screens that sell.
So commercial facing screens that could be outdoor advertising. Menu boards in quick-serve restaurants like McDonald’s, et cetera, or retail and airports and transportation, basically screens, which are asking you to buy things, right? And that’s where most of the market is today. And where most of the dollars are spent and it works for them.
They wouldn’t be putting screens up everywhere if it wasn’t working. However. As a web developer, that’s less interesting for us because, in a retail environment, you might just have 10 videos, which are just looping around showing you, the latest products. So the screen needs to be internet-connected, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be web-generative in terms of what the content is.
So when we look at screens that communicate, And so by that we mean that could be a college campus communicating to students and lecturers, etc. It could be an office for knowledge workers, or it could be in a manufacturing or logistics plant where the majority like deskers or frontline workers, even people working in retail in the back office.
The content that goes on those screens needs to be web-generated. And I’ll explain why. You’re going to see that screen multiple times every single day. That is inside your environment. You’re going to see it all the time. If that is a looping series of images and videos within an hour, that’s out of date.
So it has to be data-driven. It has to be web-driven and generate that content on the fly. So it’s a source of truth, but it’s also updating a sufficient frequency to warrant you looking at it. So we focus on screens that communicate and our whole product roadmap is.
It’s focused there on how we do these integrations to enable. The data-driven content is to be up on those screens.
That’s brilliant. And what are the key challenges you have faced with your let’s talk about marketing? What are the key challenges you have faced with your marketing?
And how have you overcome them?
Again, I suppose I’d have to say. So the business has evolved, right? From the very early days, we were going for quite a high number of transactions, but with a low ACV, right? Because our product wasn’t mature, it was at the cheaper end.
That’s how we got going. And we still do that, right? Now. With that you need a really to build a marketing machine because you can’t do that sort of, individually one by one, it’s just not, it just economically doesn’t make sense. So I think the smart thing we did there is we invested heavily in content.
And good quality content. Most people don’t know what digital signage is. Back in the day, people usually thought that meant like DocuSign, signing a PDF. So people don’t know what it is. So often the people, especially if they’ve never done it before which we were opening up the market, so what are they Googling?
They’re saying how to put my PowerPoint on a screen, how to put my menu board on a TV or whatever. So there was a lot of long-tail content of people just. Looking for the answer. So we did video content on YouTube because that kind of how-to stuff, people go to YouTube to look for how to do something.
And then we also did a lot of how-to content around that. So even though we were very small at the beginning, we were publishing at least four articles of quality a month and building up SEO and ranking around that, and that worked very effectively. And still, to be honest, to this day works very well.
It is the gift that keeps on giving, but you’ve got to invest time. And you guys know all about this, right? As we’ve gone more up-market with our enterprise offerings, I said that the machine is still running and still doing quite well. We may have taken our eye off the ball of it a bit in the last few years, but I think we’ve got a new team focus there.
Kind of how I explained earlier which is focused really on the performance side. So we have another team that’s focused more on the enterprise side, and that is a much more nuanced and subtle approach where you’ve got multi-stakeholders in it in internal comms, HR operations, whatever it might be.
And we’re probably going to have like maybe somewhere between seven and even 20 touch points with that customer. So we’ve got that kind of white paper. We’ve got webinars of account-based marketing, and then it’s working with our sales team in terms of, generating leads and going off the target accounts, etc.
So it’s it’s a bit of a barbell. We have two different types of machines that we’re building. We’re probably a bit more mature over on the. marketing funnel inbound, let Google do the work for you type thing. But we’ve over the last couple of years been building out this kind of more enterprise-sufficient sales-oriented ABM.
That’s why it’s always good to have multiple channels working in your field and just leveraging one. So yeah, plus your strategy like changes when you target the business size that you’re targeting like shifts.
I would go wider than just marketing.
You’ve always got to be looking ahead and what works for you today might not necessarily work for you tomorrow or you might cap it out completely. And the one thing about SEO, which is supposed to be the downside of SEO is that you can’t tell the world to Google more, so it’s not a lever you can pull.
You can’t say, unless suddenly, your, whatever your subject matter suddenly becomes as the spotlight of the world goes on it. And then, how many people were Googling about AI two years ago compared to now, right? It’s going to be radically different.
But, unless, and again, you probably can’t control that. So SEO captures what’s the demand that’s out there, but it doesn’t help with generating that demand initially. And that’s where you’ve eventually got to go out and start telling your story to the world as well.
You can focus much more on the branding efforts. Broadcasting, You can use multiple channels, social channels, and whatnot.
Yeah, we haven’t done too much on social, but LinkedIn works well for us. And I heavily push a lot of content out on LinkedIn related to our products and what we’re doing.
And that generates interest. And it’s interesting is people are more inclined to listen to the CEO and founder than listen to the brand channel. And I think we’ve seen that the famous one is that, Tesla doesn’t have a marketing team.
Allegedly, I’m not sure they probably do but basically, Elon’s reach is way greater than Tesla’s brand reach. And I think even though that’s like maybe just an exception, I don’t think it’s an exception to the rule. I think, even a podcast like this, I could just put on our official spokesperson for ScreenCloud, or you could talk to me and I can tell you what happened or what’s going on. And they’re not going to be like conflicting that strategy is a strategy that I set, so it shouldn’t conflict, but you’re going to get a bit more real talk, probably because I can afford to give you the history. I can tell you why.
Definitely. And for you also leveraging because you’re mainly focused on B2B and especially now the focus is on enterprise more.
So I’m sure like, LinkedIn is a wise choice to markets. Makes sense.
And there is an interesting point around that, because I think, especially with enterprise sales, I think that the term partner is overused when you’re talking about sales because ultimately you are selling. And so you could be like, Oh, we’re partnering with our customers.
It sounds almost a bit cliche. Maybe you’re a bit sleazy in some way, but I think there is a degree of truth to it. And the truth is that, especially with something like digital signage. Once you roll this out to maybe hundreds of locations, maybe thousands of screens, this is a huge undertaking for our customers.
So that relationship is not going to be one year old. It’s going to be a pretty minimum of five years. And that’s, to be honest, often probably longer because it’s a huge effort to change. So I think you do when you’re considering the sale, you need to validate that the product is where you want it to be going today, but you want to know the direction of travel that business is taking because in five years, the decisions I’ve made where I allocate budget on product and R and D.
If that doesn’t align with what you’re going to ultimately want and need, then maybe you’ve picked the wrong vendor. So I think that is where there is a degree of partnership. I think that on LinkedIn, I have the opportunity to throw out my ideas and not just my ideas, but the ideas of the team.
I’m just really the spokesperson for the collective of the business. Some of them are my thoughts and a lot of them are what I learned from my people and my customers, as well. They generate a lot of ideas for me. If I can then articulate that and put it together and say, this is where we’re going.
Yeah, that’s important. Makes sense. And then you mentioned a very good point. So you’re keeping your customers engaged through LinkedIn. I would love to know what other activities or strategies that you do to keep your customers loyal and engaged.
Yeah, I would just stress that’s my channel. There are more official channels at ScreenCloud than that. So actually we, the and this is another interesting one. If you don’t get this kind of all tied up, you can end up bombarding your customer, so give me an NPS score. Now give me a rating. Now, here’s a newsletter.
And hey, I’m your account manager. So it’s the touch points can get overwhelming if you don’t start to Get your act together, but you’re either going to leave them in deafening silence or probably over to overdo it. And getting it right is probably the tricky bit. I think, we often forget that existing customers don’t go back to your website, right?
They just don’t really, they will go through your knowledge base though. And I think your knowledge base and your support channels are indeed a big touch point because that is often how you’re talking, interfacing with that customer, and your success team as well. I think. Honestly, one of the best ways to keep customers abreast of what’s going on is in the app, and using in-app channels, to surface features, because obviously, you’re catching the right person at the right time.
Our customers are not logged into ScreenCloud all day, every day, right? They’ll probably go in and maybe make their updates in a block of time. Maybe some of them will be once a day, but probably mostly once a week, something like that. And to be honest, do you want to hear about ScreenCloud on the Tuesday that you’re not working on it?
Probably not that interesting. So we do have email newsletters and things, but. I think most of the engagement we get is actually from within the product itself and then surfacing features at the appropriate time when someone might be interested in hearing more.
A huge amount of in-app origination. I think often today, I use the woop band. I’m a proud customer and actually, I have a small investment in the company as well, very small, and most of the in-app, kind of conversion and upselling happens when I’m using the product.
And then really on email, I think that’s if you’ve got the eyeballs on your product at the time like that is the best time to talk to you. And I think in marketing, we often think of them as other channels. Now, those other channels are good for new customers who have no experience with your product, but sometimes I think we overthink those channels as ways of talking to our existing customers when we’ve got the best channel of all in front of our eyes.
And one more thing, Mark because you’re serving a wide range of industries, right? As a business, I would love to know how is it you adapt your marketing strategies to reach and resonate with these different target audiences. I’m sure like, there must be a lot of prioritization and all of those things Just a small example, if you have to just create a content piece do you want to work with limited resources?
So what exactly which target audience would you prioritize and how exactly does that happen?
Yeah, it’s a really good question and it’s hard. The answer is I don’t have a phenomenally good answer, but the answer I can give is the honest one. So when ScreenCloud began I loved the fact that, to be honest, digital signage could be used for almost any business in the world almost any use case, and trust me I probably have worked with a customer on almost every single use case you could imagine genuinely you’re over 10 000 of them and then that’s just the customers we’ve landed Let alone the ones we’ve spoken to, right?
So you can imagine it’s just far and wide. I loved the randomness. I loved learning about new things. And then as we were scaling, I realized this is difficult because my team’s then starting to have very random, your sales team’s going to be better at selling if each customer kind of acts and talks the same.
But if they’re completely different each time, they’re just not going to generate the learnings quick enough to be good. And so it starts to work against you. I suppose I’d say two things. On one side in defense of a massive array of use cases, content is content, right? A JPEG on a screen, an MP4 on a screen, a webpage on a screen, technically, is the same thing now what it says on the JPEG or the web page or the MP4 like that can have a completely random use case, but as a technical delivery platform, it doesn’t matter.
And that’s that’s up to you what you want to say there. So the product by its very nature and the kind of content that it’s delivering is generic because there are only so many content types that we have, right? As you can see, the tail falls off pretty quickly after about 10 types.
However, for your marketing, you’ve, I suppose then you’ve got to say look, even though anyone could use this and benefit from it, like who’s getting the most benefit from it. And where is there a gap in the market that we can exploit? So that’s why we took the bold decision to say.
Let’s look at screens, which are communication platforms screen as a communication delivery platform, not as a commercial platform, because to be honest, those guys have done a great job. And yes, I’m sure it needs a bit more modernization and innovation, but it wasn’t screaming for us to go over there.
And to be honest, it’s also not my background. It’s not really, I’m not a retailer, right? Like I think you need to do that. You need to understand that world. And I didn’t, and our team didn’t. So I suppose I cut off 80 percent of the market just by that.
Now, if it’s a small retail use case, a small QSR, then of course, ScreenCloud does a great job of that because it’s a nice, reliable platform, but at the enterprise level, it’s probably not for you. So now I’ve cut my market down, but it’s still pretty big because every business kind of needs to communicate to its people.
So then I like which are the businesses that have an urgent need for screens as a communication platform? And that’s where the diskless and frontline worker industries come in, which is 80 percent of all the people employed are considered diskless. Knowledge workers are the minority.
We often forget about this, but it’s not normal for most of the world to sit down at a computer and work on teams or Slack and email most of the world is out there doing stuff. And they’re not on a computer or a mobile device. And so the screen might be the only digital platform that they see and interface with. And therefore the urgency for what we do and their requirement is better. And then really at that point you just look at what are the big segments that are large. And that you’ve already got some good traction with. And we’ve already done very well in manufacturing and logistics.
So we mainly focus around there. But we also do education and healthcare as probably number three and four as well. Yeah. To answer your question properly. And therefore that’s the content we create is against these cases.
Thanks a lot. I would like to know what is the impact on business-wise during the pandemic.
Huh? Yeah. Good question. That was scary. March. You know what? In the whole history of ScreenCloud, March 2020 was the most amount of revenue we had ever put through the business. We were going on it. We were growing so well and, everything was just going so well. And then suddenly it wasn’t COVID closed the doors on pretty much every single customer that we had it was scary. We went backward in revenue, as you would expect some of the businesses that we served, especially the smaller ones went bust during that time. A lot of people didn’t have the need and money was scarce because initially, obviously all of the COVID support, financial support, that wasn’t like definitely going to come, right?
No one knew what the government, what they’re going to do. We’re in multiple countries mainly America. We did we did a lot of revenue protection. And what we did was we said, Look, if you’re not getting value from the screens, we don’t want your money.
But don’t churn, so we said, look, we will just credit your account. And what that did is it meant that whenever they renewed, the credits would apply. And it softened the blow, the financial blow, rather than just saying, we’re going to give you your money back. We said we’d credit your account because otherwise we’d have gone bust.
Revenue went backward, but only by about 7%. Which is a miracle. And I think it’s because of the revenue protection because we were proactive to say to the customers, we know you’re not getting value from our product. And therefore we think we need to do something favorable. That was good.
Also, a lot of customers said to us, look, we don’t want to churn because we don’t think we’re going to be stuck indoors forever. And when we come back, we’re going to need you and we need you to survive. So actually a lot of people turned down the credit and said, thank you. But we know that we’re a much bigger company than you, like a big multinational.
We don’t need your credit. Please take that credit and stay alive, which I thought was amazing. So it was hard. But we modeled for a 20 percent drop in revenue and we only went to seven. Then it bottomed out until it went flat. And then we started to grow. And the areas that we started to grow again in were industries where they couldn’t shut down, right?
Like manufacturing and logistics. And that’s how we picked up those customers and therefore we learn more about that world. And that’s what got that bit going because a lot of. Frontline and deskless workers couldn’t stop. And so actually for those guys, the screens became super important, especially when management teams couldn’t, travel to the sites themselves.
How else are you going to communicate? By screen. So it ended up generating our greatest use case. But yeah, I’m not going to lie. That was super I won’t swear, but it was scary.
What are the main KPIs you prioritize for your customers and deliver to your customers, to basically, report on the effectiveness of the campaigns that they run?
Yeah. So basically what’s the ROI of screens, I think is what you’re broadly getting at. So I would say, Again, it’s another hard question. I say there are three tiers to ROI when you’re using screens. Yeah, so tier one would be saving time and money. So with ScreenCloud, we are demonstrably more reliable than legacy systems.
And so we predominantly sell to the it buyer, right? because we’re part of the IT network. So we are not to overuse that word again, we partner with our it team because if a screen goes down in a business, the people don’t complain to us. They complain to their IT Team. Hey guys, the screen’s off.
So in gen in that sense, we genuinely are a partner, even though they’re paying for us, and for them, their reputation is on the line. Any IT system that IT is supporting, needs to be on their network. It needs to be secure. It needs to have the capabilities to do what the business needs of it.
And they need to be able to support it. So the fact that screens often get turned off and go down, and then people need to send engineers out into the field that costs a lot of money if you can do all of that remotely, or just have it not happen at all, or hardly ever. Then you’re not sending engineers in the field which saves you a ton of time.
So there’s a, we have a, one of the ambulance services in the UK uses us. They looked at their engineering ticket list and they saw that they saved 350 hours in the first year of using ScreenCloud compared to a previous system. So there’s that aspect to it as well. The other aspect of time and money is that often we are replacing bits of paper stuck on a notice board, the actual cost of printing and then posting and then getting someone to go and change it and then checking that they’ve changed it is quite high. And I’ve heard in the US that could even be up to 600 dollars per poster, including all of those costs, which seems extraordinary.
But I can see why, especially if you have to double-check that it’s even happened or not. And then maybe you need to make an update to it and send that poster again because you’re like, Oh, no, it’s out of date. So you can see there’s a big efficiency cost just by using it. The second area of ROI, I would say is most of the content that we’re putting up on a screen already exists inside the business, but it exists inside of knowledge worker tools.
So it might be content in teams or SharePoint or Excel or Power BI. So it’s in a silo. It’s behind a login. It’s a knowledge worker tool and your deskless frontline workers. They just don’t see that they don’t have an IT login. They don’t have an email address. They don’t have a company email address.
So what we’re doing is say let’s get that content that lives there where it’s useful and valuable. Let’s project that content up onto the screen. So we’re extending the ROI of the content you’re already creating and maximizing its surface area to the hundred percent of the organization, rather than just the 20 percent potentially.
So again, you’ve already made that investment. We’re just extending that investment out for you. And we do all of that often automated. So it’s like an automated feed rather than a manual process. The third bit of ROI, which I think is probably where the root of your question was coming from was basically in the effectiveness of using screens for either productivity, behavior change, health and safety, that kind of thing.
That is trickier because a lot of our customers are new to this and they don’t do the big analysis piece that you would like to see whether this behavior change has happened. But some of them do, and I can give you a couple of examples here. So we recently had an industrial customer in the Midwest of the States use the screens for a campaign for benefit enrollments.
And they saw a 45 percent uptick in benefit enrollments on time because of the screening campaign compared to what they would typically expect when doing enrollment, previously, which has been massively helpful. So it shows you that. It’s pretty, the science of it’s pretty obvious.
It’s, if you make people much more aware, if you remind them at the right time, at the right place to do something, the chances are they’re more likely to do it. Another corporate customer of mine, I won’t be able to name who they are, but they’re very large. On the West Coast in their corporate HQ put screens on every second floor and then screens not on the other ones, right?
So half the building had screens half of them didn’t as a test for three months just a pilot project because they wanted to see does this work before they went and rolled it out? Not just the whole building but the whole country and then they did a pulse survey Based on the type of content that they’d been showing on those screens about three months later what was interesting was that the recall rates of information averaged mostly around, just for argument’s sake, about 30%.
There were different levels of recall rates, but most people could remember about a third of the content, right? No, that was the default. So sorry, that was the people without screens. Okay, on the floors that had screens, that recall rate jumped up to more like 80 percent or 70%, right?
Depending on the content, except not for all content, some content, it made no difference whatsoever. Other content, had a radical recall rate. And the main difference was really how simple was it to understand the message. So if it was a big, complicated dashboard, it probably made no difference. If it had three numbers on it, People could remember them if it was like promoting an event, remember to do this by that time.
It worked. If it was a nuanced explanation of a new business strategy, it didn’t work at all. So there’s certain content, which you’ve got to make it simple and snackable. So if you glance at the screen, you see it. Your brain is going to remember it and if you see that hundreds of times, potentially over three months, you’re not going to know why, but you are going to remember it because it’s tapping into your subconscious cognition and this is what screens is all about.
There is a science to this that most people don’t understand. But when I explain this. You get what I’m saying, right? Your eyes are picking up way more information than you’re probably really conscious of. And you’re learning, right? And so if I just put more information into your world every day, in these small, delicate nudges, and I make it clear and simple for you to understand, then you’re going to understand it.
And that’s the kind of mission that I’m trying to spread really. It’s like we don’t use screens well enough. And my job is to explain why, but if you do and you do it in the right way, they have a massive effect.
That’s interesting. So you have, you are serving more than 10K customers now, and more than 100K screens are powered by the organization.
What’s the average lifetime value?
Again, you have to cohort them because if you do an average, it’s it comes up with a slightly weird one. So if a customer is using us for one or two screens you’re probably looking at like average lifetime, maybe two, three years.
Sometimes they go faster because they can be quite small customers, like credit card failure, and then maybe the person who was in the business that was using the screens has left the business. They haven’t handed over. So you see a bit more churn and frothiness at the very low ends, but if you’re talking like I’ve got 500 screens running screen cloud across 100 locations.
To be honest, we’ve not, we’ve only been going since 2015, and I still think the lifetime value’s longer than that. I would say it’s probably five years plus.
And when I speak, and if you have to put a number like a monetary number
For enterprise, just for argument’s sake for enterprise, I’d put five years, but I think it’s probably further than that.
It’s just that we haven’t been going long enough on the enterprise for me to tell you, but when I speak to a customer who’s replacing a legacy system that they probably hate, right? They’ve often said, Oh, it’s unreliable. We don’t like it. How long have you had it? They’re like, Oh, since 2010. And I’m like, so just a minute, you’ve been paying for this thing for 13 years and you don’t like it, but they’re like, yeah, but it’s a massive pain to change.
So to be honest, it is there’s something to be said for like software, which has this kind of hardware component. It makes it a bit more complex at the beginning but it also locks you in. Not that you want to be locked into a customer who doesn’t like you, but it means that churning out a screen cloud at scale is painful.
And that would be the same for any of my competitors too. Yeah. So you’ve got to screw up to lose them.
All right, Mark, we’re coming to an end. And I would love to have a quick rapid fire with you now. Are you ready for that?
Okay. What one word do you want people to associate you with?
Screens. I’m the screen guy.
Are you a private person or not?
I am an introverted person with extrovert tendencies. So I’m giving out a lot of energy into this interview and I probably sound like I’m quite extroverted, especially if you see me on stage or something. But the reality is that this enjoyably drains me and I need to go and be quiet after this for an hour and recharge my battery. So I would say that I am a private person and I’m increasingly becoming more private as I get better known. But I’m very happy to be very public about my passion for screens and screens as a medium and less so about Just things, people don’t need to know me that well to know that my message matters.
That’s right. I’m pretty much with you in that sense I also need some quiet time after a long meeting and things. So I usually take not more than 30 minutes of break.
In a normal meeting I probably wouldn’t need to recharge, but I’m giving quite a lot of energy out at the moment.
That makes sense. Any funny nickname your parents, or friends, or work colleagues used to call you?
Actually my nickname is, and even in Slack I’m still called this, it’s just McD. I mean my nickname, my surname’s McDermott, but when my first job someone just started calling me McD and it’s just always stuck, so I’m, some people don’t even know my name’s, Mark.
They’re like, oh, it’s just McD. I don’t know. Now I’m 44. It feels a bit weird. It made more sense when I was 21.
What was your last Google search?
What was my last Google search? Oh, probably Black Friday TV deals because I’m buying a new TV.
What’s something you could eat for a week straight?
Oh, Indian food. I was born in Dubai and my nanny was actually from Kerala. And my mum asked her to feed me this boring baby food that was fashionable at the time.
That was like high in nutrients, but it tasted terrible. And she tasted it and she had a baby the same age as me. And so she just basically fed me baby curries and I literally could eat that forever. I love it.
It was fun talking to you and learned a lot from you. And yeah, thank you so much for all the time, and all the wisdom that you’ve shared in this session. I appreciate it.
Oh, thank you for the engaging conversation and the intelligent questions. I enjoyed it. Thank you.
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